Dominic Thiem vs Felix Auger-Aliassime should be an instant classic
Canadian Vacek Pospisil has been playing the best tennis of his life and at that pace might take this match. But de Minaur is also playing some lights out ball, and holds a 2-0 lifetime edge over Pospisil, which I tend to emphasize greatly. If anything, this should be a very entertaining match. De Minaur plays an all court game and relies on every aspect of it. As entertaining as Denis Shapavalov is, and he is, he is pretty one dimensional hitting killer topspin shots one after another. But de Minaur mixes things up beautifully with blocks, slices, dinks, and moves forward which make his game a thing of beauty to watch. Pospisil has been serving well, and his game is built around that. But he’s doing everything right here: returning serve, crushing groundies and competing with the best of them. Yet I think that the Demon will have fewer unforced errors and that will make the difference. When they touch rackets at the end it will be the Aussie with the smile.
Another instant classic, the first meeting between these two future superstars is coming at just the right time: at a flawed tournament, with a flawed draw that no fans are allowed to watch, that needs a pop in the arm. This should provide it. Thiem is the Prince in waiting, but like British Queen Elizabeth, the Big Three refuse to abdicate so Thiem is left waiting in the wings until the day he can be crowned. That day is approaching, as Federer is injured and aging, Nadal is aging and seemingly wanting to continue after the Covid issue on his favored clay courts, and Nole has now assumed the role of the Tour Villain. He’s not Boris Badenoff (Daniil Medvedev) quite yet, but he’s getting there after yesterday’s ill-advised event that led to his being defaulted in the Round of 16. Watch this match. It should set a precedent for maybe 30 or 40 more that these guys will play over the next ten years or so. And in this one, expect Thiem to triumph and move on.
I have not been quite convinced that Italian Berrettini is a Top 10 player. Well, I give in... finally. He’s a stud, and I’ve just been too stubborn to realize it. He’s playing great ball, but he will have his will severely tested by the young Russian. Rublev has joined compatriots Medvedev and Khachanov as top tier players on the Tour, and is a threat to win any tournament that he enters. But Berrettini has shown historical mastery over the tough Russian, and when push comes to shove, expect the talented Italian to eek this one out.
Big Foe has a Big Task ahead of him: playing tough Russian Daniil Medvedev in the Round of 16 here in Gotham. With Djokovic gone, Medvedev becomes at least one of the two favorites (along with Thiem) to capture his first Grand Slam title. As well as Tiafoe has been playing, and he has, surprisingly (I say that because of his early Summer Covid scare) he just doesn’t have the game to beat Medvedev. The tall Russian has it all, and he’ll display it all against the American, and it will be too much for Big Foe to handle. Look for a couple of Russians, a couple of Canadians, and no Americans (again) in the quarters here.